Do you remember the last time you attended a program at Arlington's David M. Brown Planetarium? You circled around the interior corridor and entered the dome theater. After you took your seat, someone (former director Jonathan Harmon? a member of the Friends of the Planetarium?) welcomed you with some brief announcements. Then, the lights dimmed. The narration began and lights played across the dome. For the next 30 minutes or more, you were immersed in the wonders of our Universe portrayed in sound and light; cutting edge science made comprehensible and accessible. We all look forward to sharing that experience again. Help the Friends ensure the Planetarium reopens in Fall 2022 ready to serve our students and community.
The Planetarium remains closed through summer 2022 while construction continues at the former Education Center. While not the focus of the construction efforts, the Planetarium will benefit from improved climate control and internet access as well as asbestos remediation in the entrance corridor. In addition, we anticipate that the Arlington Public Schools (APS) will initiate a search for a new director in mid-2022.
Computer technology is constantly improving and older hardware becoming obsolete. The current projector in the Planetarium has reached the end of its expected life; the manufacturer will no longer maintain it. Therefore, APS needs to replace the existing projector with current equipment capable of running state-of-the-art programs. Given the supply chain realities affecting so many industries, APS should place their order before the end of January 2022 so that the system will be functional when school starts in August 2022.
The Planetarium serves approximately 25,000 students annually. The Friends need your help to provide these children with engaging and inspiring educational experiences that support their science classes.
What can you do?
- Urge the School Board to commit $220,000 in year-end, close-out funds to purchasing the up-to-date projector for the Planetarium. They are scheduled to decide on this matter at their January 20 meeting.
- Join the Friends of the Planetarium (or renew your membership) to remain informed about developments with the Planetarium and receive notices about upcoming events. You will also be able to participate in our annual meeting on January 22.
- Make a one-time contribution to the Friends so we can continue to assist APS financially with critical Planetarium infrastructure in preparation for re-opening.
- Provide continuing support to the Friends through the Combined Federal Campaign #39066 if you are a federal employee or Amazon Smile program if you order from that company. In addition to supporting the facility financially, the Friends also provide professional development Grants for Teachers, the David M. Brown Memorial Scholarship, and creative community science education programs.